For immediate release
The prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism 2008 has been won by Dahr Jamail and Mohammed Omer.
In the spirit of the great war reporter Martha Gellhorn, these two extraordinary journalists – Dahr Jamail is American and Mohammed Omer is Palestinian — share the Prize for their courageous, insightful and, above all, independent reporting. Neither winner has enjoyed the backing of news organisations. Working alone in extremely difficult and often dangerous circumstances, they have reported unpalatable truths, validated by powerful facts that expose establishment propaganda, or “official drivel”, as Martha Gellhorn called it. This the essence of the Martha Gellhorn Prize.
Dahr Jamail’s unembedded reporting from Iraq, Lebanon and Syria has allowed us to understand the conflict in the Middle East not from a “Western” point of view (although he himself is American), but from “the ground up”, as Martha Gellhorn wrote. His expose of the siege of Fallujah in Iraq is a beacon of modern war reporting.
Mohammed Omer is a young Palestinian journalist, a native of Gaza, where his own home and family are constantly under siege. He has become quite literally the voice of the voiceless and his dispatches from within an “open prison” represent a profoundly humane record of the injustice imposed on a community forgotten by much of the world.
The winners emerged from a record number of entries, which included exceptional work from right across the British press and abroad.
Dahr Jamail and Mohammed Omer share £5,000. This will be presented at a ceremony at the British Academy of Television Arts (BAFTA) in London, on 16th June.
The judges are Alexander Matthews, James Fox, Cynthia Kee, John Hatt, Jeremy Harding and John Pilger.